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Amusement Park Rides Don’t Thrill Your Spine

sixflags amusement park

Accidents involving theme park rides have become so prevalent that a new litigation specialty has sprung up: Amusement Park Injury Law. While these incidents have numerous possible causes—old equipment, defective materials, neglectful maintenance, operator error, user misconduct or inherent design flaws—there is no doubt that even modern design does not guarantee an injury-free experience.

The rides causing most of the back injuries are those that bump, drop, whip, jerk or spin. Roller coasters lead the pack due to the stress placed on the rider from the speed and intense G-Forces which literally throw your body around. If you’ve ever noticed the strain on your neck and back during a Scrambler ride or while tumbling head over heels on The Zipper, or felt whiplash from extreme bumper car warfare, you’ve already experienced the impact on your spine.

How prevalent are these injuries?

How likely you are to experience a back injury from a thrill ride is difficult to determine.  International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAP) claims your chances of a serious injury, defined as “an injury resulting in immediate admission and hospitalization in excess of 24 hours for purposes other than medical observation” at a U.S. amusement park are quite low, 1 in 16 million. However, only 6.9% of all injuries reported fall under this strict definition. Injuries occurring to the neck and back—both minor and severe—often go unreported to the park management or, if reported, don’t result in immediate emergency treatment or hospitalization. So we don’t really know the statistical likelihood of a spine-related injury, but we do know they are among the most common.

So what can you do?

Back injuries—any injuries—can sure take the fun out of Fun Land. The good news is amusement rides must incorporate strict safety regulations for the materials, manufacturing, maintenance and operation of amusement rides. Ride cars must have adequate padding, bracing, belts and bars to keep the rider restrained and comfortable. Still, all rides may not provide spine safety for all riders. Before handing over your ticket:

  • Know that rides may not safely restrain people outside of the size norms used by their engineers. Feet must touch the floor; belts must fit around the body and be latched. Larger and smaller people may fit the system poorly and should stay off.
  • If you even think you might have any conditions on the caution signs (heart disease, pregnancy, or seizure disorders for example), head to a tamer ride.
  • If your back is already sore, or if you have an existing back problem, stay off.
  • If you find the seats awkward or uncomfortable, or notice any alarming condition issues, alert the operator before the ride is fully loaded and insist on being let off.
  • Follow sound fitness principles including some simple stretching before the ride.
  • Scary as it might be, always watch what’s coming so you can proactively adjust your body to upcoming curves and drops.

We at Saratoga Spine can make sure your back is healthy enough to satisfy the thrill-seeker inside you. Call 518-587-7746.

*Photo courtesy www.sixflags.com

Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery